Preparing for foreign-language interviews: 4 tips

Parlez-vous français? A PR pro and business owner in Montreal, who’s accustomed to interviews in English and French, offers his advice on foreign language media opps.

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While I speak French well, it’s not my first language. But because the business mustn’t lose out on the exposure provided by media coverage, the second language thing cannot be a deterrent.

So, what do you do, if you aren’t “perfect” (whatever that means) in a language but do not want to pass up the chance to do a media interview?

The answer is about honest self-assessment and prep.

Here are four tips for preparing for second language media interviews:

1. Know your level of linguistic mastery.
Whether you’re ready do to an interview in a language other than your mother tongue begins with knowing, precisely, where you stand with that language. Be honest with yourself, are you good enough to do a live spot or is a more forgiving pre-taped format the only way to go?

2. Know your media outlet, host, and show.
The interview I did last week was on a fairly light-hearted TV show. As a result, the level of language was relatively basic. More complex, headier subject matter—the kind one gets on NPR or Radio-Canada—usually requires better command of language. Knowing about the outlet, show, and host will help you discern the level of language required.

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